Sunday, December 19, 2010

I Just Want To Cry

I would really just like to sit and cry for about 20 minutes. I'm being slowly pecked to death by ducks; killed by a 1000 paper cuts; herding marauding turtles. Every time I think I am about to get it back together, the stomach flu hits, my husband leaves on a business trip, school is delayed for weather, Noah needs yet another well-baby check up or my dog needs me to place a warm compress on her anus for 10-15 minutes nightly (don't ask).

I have been at a baby weight plateau for a good 3 months now (baby is 4.5 months). While I know that I know the extra donut is helping no one, it doesn't seem possible that I can wake every morning famished yet somehow see the scale fluctuate between the same 3 numbers. Surely, by now, it should be coming off. I keep reminding myself that it came off with the other 2 with no obsessing on my part and I actually don't think it's coming off any more slowly this time. I suspect it's due to the fact that I gained so much less this time that there was just less that my body felt comfortable with shedding easily. I still keep having a nagging in my head that I am 33 this time and perhaps my metabolism just isn't what it was.

The dishes are a source of endless bafflement as well. If I skip running the dishwasher one night because there is so little in there we somehow make a bumper crop of dishes the next day and it takes me another 2-3 days before I'm properly caught up.

I keep having to remind myself that I am a grown up now regarding my social life. I keep telling myself that not everyone has to like me just like I don't actually like everyone else. But I still find myself wondering why that woman doesn't like me or that group doesn't invite me to their get togethers. I have my own friends, my own groups, my own groove but part of me is still that 14 year old who has no sense of self.

I am pretty sure my mom is going senile at a gradually increasing rate. On a purely selfish level, it puts me in a mild panic because I had counted on being able to turn to her for help with the children when my husband has to travel, etc, but she's starting to be at a point where that just isn't the best plan. She's not a danger to anyone but the stress she invokes in me is almost equal to the stress she takes off of me at this point.

I can't get my laundry put away in less than 3 days. This drives me nuts.

Noah has this massive scream-fest/fussithon every evening as well as being a bit on the touchy side all day. I think the main issue is that he's ready to go to sleep for the night around 6. However, he only sleeps while being held and only really hits the night time sort of sleep, laying next to me. So, in Noah's world, I should be going to be at 6 as well. Since that's less than practical, he cries while being rocked in a variety of venues. But, I'm still winding up trying to be in bed by 8:30 because that's still about 3 hours of screaming and it's about all we can take anyway. This has a lot to do with things like why I can't get the laundry done.

Noah is also still getting up every 1.5-3 hours to nurse. I'm sure it has to do with sleeping with me but as the alternative seems to be listening to hours of crying every night, it seems to be a wash. I'm sure the lack of consistent sleep isn't helping my mood or my weight.

Insanely, even with all this, I'm still mourning that this will be my last baby. I'm such a mess.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

If it makes you feel better...

Sometimes I look at a woman who seems to have it all together and wonder if she ever has a bad moment. I have been told on a couple of occasions in the last few weeks that I am this wonderfully organized person who has it all together. Au contraire...

1- Yes, I got out of maternity clothes by 3 weeks post partum but I only fit 2 pairs of pants- one pair is far too long and the other had to have the crotch sewn up. I am SYLISH! I only fit 2 church outfits and both require me to wear heels and hose, sigh. I am hoping that I will be closer to my regular size by the time Noah is 12 weeks old and that I can hold out shopping until then. I have now personally witnessed 3 women who were back to their regular jeans, etc, by 6 weeks post partum. I am currently in talks with Jesus about how to temper my feelings towards them, thus far, the Holy Spirit has been unable to burn the un-Christian feelings from my heart.

2- Noah is 8 weeks old and has had 4 or perhaps 5 baths in his life. He's also pulled off getting not one, but two, colds.

3- I watched Sister Wives the other day and came to the conclusion that I think I would presently be ok with polygamy if it meant I would get a daily nap while my sister wives tended my children.

4- I do menu plan and write a grocery list but this is mostly to mask the fact that if left to my own devices at the grocery store our entire week's meals would consist of fage yogurt, s'mores, and whichever cheese Kroger was offering samples of when I went through. Even with menu planning, etc, my children eat, on average, 1 dinner I prepared per week. Once upon a time I was a spontaneous cook...

5- There has been more than one occasion in Noah's 2 short months with us when I honestly could not tell you when he had a- last nursed or b- had his diaper changed. As I tend to nurse him when he cries and cloth diapers leak after not a ridiculously long time, he is doing fine by default but with Charlie, I knew to within the 30 second when those had last happened.

6- We went to the library last Friday afternoon and stayed 20 minutes. We will not be forgotten soon. Megan had to poop not once, but TWICE, both times managing to interrupt just as I had gotten Noah latched so he cried at ear splitting volume, not once, but TWICE. Charlie toppled this rocking toy over on his head and required rescue (of course, just after I got Noah latched). When I cried "uncle" and took us home, Megan began running and jumping through the stacks (shouting "tada" every time she jumped), while waving her DVD over her head until I could explain that we couldn't take the DVD home if we didn't take it to the librarian. On our way out, Megan dropped all her books and threw a tantrum when I said I would carry them. Charlie wasn't paying attention and almost wandered out the main door until I hollered at a level less than conducive for reading and, of course, Noah was crying. The little old people were totally glaring at me.

7- I have been trying to write a "Works for Me Wednesday" post for 4 weeks and have yet to pull it off. Generally those posts are 1 paragraph or less...

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Sorry! I meant to link to Jo's blog and forgot. Here it is- also corrected in original post.

Never Look Back

Jo wrote this really fantastic post about wrestling with the decision of having more children. In addition to all the logistical and emotional wrangling there was also a really interesting twist involving how changing the punctuation of "No more, kids" several times can easily sum up the entire thought process.

I have had a lot of similar thoughts over the last month or two. My pregnancies are miserable. They are not dangerous or high risk to anyone, I don't find it especially challenging to become pregnant, the birth process is fairly straightforward and I recover as well and as quickly as could be expected but the pregnancy itself is a long, forced march through just about every really annoying pregnancy symptom What To Expect might put on offer. In short, if I really wanted to, I could easily pull a Dugger and pop out a healthy baby every 18 months or so but I wouldn't be all that pleasant to live with. By my 3rd month of pregnancy this last time, I vowed I would never do this again. But now, the fuzzy haze is descending and I keep wondering if we shouldn't have just one more baby (friends have assured me this is the best way to conceive far sooner than you planned and with twins to boot). I feel a twinge every time I know I will be seeing a first for the last time- Noah started smiling about a week ago. It's mostly at lights and fans but every once in a while I get a gummy grin as well. There is also the existential crisis of facing your mortality via leaving a stage of life behind if I close the door on childbearing.

I can see that things really do get a little easier once you get over the hump of 2 children. The learning curve with Charlie was hella steep. While Megan was a slightly easier baby, we didn't do ourselves any favors by spacing the children 20 months apart (a spacing I now adore but the first year is a humdinger). Noah shares a number of the characteristics of both children that made them challenging but we know a lot more strategies for coping with them now. Noah is generally happy only when being held. Since we've been doing this for a while, we now have 4 baby carriers and are well versed in their use. We gotten the hang of the evening baby handoff and I've learned how to do the essentials to keep the household running in the 1.5 hours I have to cram it all in (as well as anything I might need to do for myself).

We've hit the point in parenting where we simply do what works. Noah will only sleep at night if he is nestled into the crook of my neck so we co-sleep. There is no parenting philosophy or theory behind the decision beyond the fact that we have to be rested enough to care for two other children in the morning. Noah's eating habits are erratic. Sometimes he goes several hours and sometimes barely hits the hour mark. Happily, after nursing 2 other children my milk is plentiful, my let down fast, and my apprehension at nursing in public non-existent. I can adapt to what he needs much more easily than I could with Charlie, when I was chained to the couch for hours at a time and I'm inclined to simply feed him instead of worrying about hind milk and fore milk, which side we did last, etc. The important elements of breastfeeding are pretty automatic at this point and I know what needn't be worried about. In short, I can see how families with 5 and 6 children can add another child with minimal fuss. At the same time, I'm not sure I want to have 5 children simply because it will make the 6th so much easier!

I have this twisted logic that says that if I enjoy my children and motherhood in general so much; if I really loved children, I should just keep having them. After all, if I liked them so much and enjoyed things so much, why wouldn't I want MORE? I know that it doesn't actually work that way. I know that simply having more siblings doesn't make an automatic big, happy, Weasley family. I know that I have gotten to a point where, for me, with my particular quirks and foibles and my tendency to have the rather high maintenance (come by honestly!) children, 3 is probably my upper limit. I know that I do love them beyond reason, smile daily at the many wonderful little things that happen everyday and adore listening to their interactions. I know that I show my children that I do love them and motherhood and wiping tiny heinies by doing it, every day, every night, every week. I know that having another child would prove nothing other than that I apparently never want to sleep for 6 hours in a row again. I know that having another child would likely do the opposite of showing my current children how much I love them- I would be stretched slightly thinner, wound slightly tighter, have sightly less in my already slightly anemic store of patience. With another child, there would be yet another 6 months of no mommy cooking, another round of "not while I nurse/rock/bounce/soothe/cry with the baby," another round of maybe once I've managed to get a little sleep. I know that I can love my children and being their mother without always enjoying the nitty gritty. But, there is always a nagging in the back of my mind saying that "if I really loved them..."

I keep reminding myself that I never tend to like to look back. I had no significant wish to go to my high school or college reunions other than to fulfill passing curiosity. I look back on the passing of Charlie's infancy with nothing but relief. I seldom re-visit my home town. I'm one of those people who mostly likes to look ahead. I have various mementos and reminders but I appalled my mother in law by not saving baby teeth or first curls and I am a disaster at scrapbooking. I am making a conscious effort to spend more time experiencing the present and letting the future sort itself out. Having another baby would be many things but a big one would be clinging to a present that is quickly becoming a past and that just isn't the way I tend to operate. Once I've said "good bye," I prefer to quickly turn to the next thing. I hope I can remember that I can have an identity beyond my fertility. If I can just remember that there are no motherhood merit badges. I hope I can simply remind myself that I don't need to prove to anyone that I love my children. I hope I can simply remember all this the next time I think "No more kids?"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Babies Are Well Designed

Noah arrived August 1st at 6:34 am. He weighed 7 pounds, 9.5 ounces and was 20 inches long.

It's a good thing babies are so squishy. It makes holding them for 23 hours a day much more pleasant.

It's a good thing I got used to carrying around a bunch of extra weight when I was pregnant, it makes the extra 10 pounds I carry most of the day that much easier and this 10 pounds is way cuter.

It's a good thing babies heads are so downy and their cheeks so soft. It makes having them sleep tucked in under your chin feel pleasant even when your shoulder goes numb.

It's a good thing babies don't know what a lullabye is so I can sign "Dream On" ala Glee when I get tired of the standard stuff.

It's a good thing I held on to a little baby weight. I can think about all the calories I'm burning when up for the 4th nursing session of the night.

It's a good thing babies have such sweet breath. It makes the 45 minute crying sessions that much easier to manage.

It's a good thing baby heinies are so cute. I sure get to see it an awful lot- this child is a pooping machine!

It's a good thing pregnancy left me so squishy. My tummy is now an excellent place to lie on while "off gassing."

It's a good thing the only move Noah has is to work his way upward while searching for something to latch on to. If you only get one move, the one that gets you to the mama milk is a good one to have.

It's a good thing babies cry so loudly. It's helpful to have my milk let down before Daddy has even made it up the stairs with Noah for our next nursing session.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Difference in Perspective

I had to go on a bunch of errands yesterday morning. I had glorious free morning and each was the sort of thing that was fairly quick to do without children in tow but take ages when also trying to wrangle. Or, at least I thought. I had the absolute worst luck at every store- photo kiosks were broken, delivery trucks delayed, stores short staffed, and on and on. This gave me a lot of time in which I stood around waiting with other customers, for whatever reason they all tended to be women of a certain age who all wanted to know about when I was due. To each I gave my standard answer of "August," occasionally qualifying it with an "early." The answers varied but all were permutations of "You must be so hot," "I bet it can't come soon enough," and "You still have a ways to go, then, huh?" To each I wanted to answer "Are you out of your mind?"

I have been hot since March. Dressing the children in weather appropriate clothing was a constant struggle this spring as I had to keep reminding myself that 55' is not actually short sleeve weather for the rest of the world. The fact that summer is hotter than spring means little to me and, as I keep pointing out, we do live in an age of air conditioning and freely available cool water.

In regards to the baby's impeding arrival, I have been solidly fixed in the mental state of vague impending doom for the last month, at the least. I have 6 weeks or so left and I need every bit of that time to have any hope of being ready for his arrival. The nursery is in the middle of being remodeled. While a good hunk of it is done, it is still far from habitable and I know from experience that if it's not done by the time the baby gets here, it will next be worked on when the baby is 16 months old. Take out is not a terribly viable option with my gestational diabetes so I've been doing a vast amount of cooking for our day to day life. Since I'm still experimenting with just how many carbs I can eat, cooking ahead is not really an option. Add in that the heavy emphasis on meat, dairy and nuts and the grocery budget has little wiggle room. This means the freezer stocking that I tend to start by now, hasn't happened. I have yet to go through fall clothing for the children to see what needs to be bought, hitting the August back to school sales will be a challenge this year. Nor have I gone through our newborn clothes to see if Noah will have anything clean to wear. As far as I'm concerned, this baby is coming any minute and I'm woefully ill prepared.

I have developed a powerful nesting instinct this go around that I'm trying to take advantage of. I have a theory that while there is something to the idea of the nesting thing, it's also the end result of your body slowly going completely out of your control. While there are definite evolutionary advantages to women wanting to get things in order shortly before a baby arrives, it seems like there is also a very real element of control as well. Not only is your body doing things that it never does otherwise, you know that you have the impending arrival of this unknown permanent house guest whom you will be expected to care for and keep alive and LIKE for the next indeterminate number of years. You generally don't know quite when he will arrive, what sort of things he likes to do, how he will sleep, etc, etc. And so, if I can't get a handle on anything else, I can at least corral my baking supplies. So far, I have rearranged kitchen cabinets, bathroom closets, the Y has received a steady stream of donations, pictures are being hung, and lists are being made. If I just keep finding new projects to do, I can ignore the fact that I have a body in rebellion, that I have desperate desire to eat the completely out of the question french toast with syrup, and that I have this mild sense of panic about just what I decided to get myself into 33 weeks ago.

Monday, May 24, 2010


a- baby is a boy and seems to be growing nicely

b- we pretty sure he'll be named Noah

c- for 5 minutes one morning, I was in domestic bliss. Charlie and Megan were "working together" on a floor puzzle while I packed us a picnic lunch for later in the day. Working together mostly consisted of Megan helpfully saying "here you go" while handing Charlie random puzzle pieces only to follow it up with "that don't go there." But, they were happy and I got to experience one of those lovely mommy moments with wiped counter tops and a clean sink to boot!

d- I got some of this whipped sugar scrub and it's a little slice of heaven for your skin. I use it on my face once a day and it does a wonderful job exfoliating and cleansing without irritating although I have found I have to follow up with moisturizer no matter what as the slow march of time carries on. Her products are are paraben and pthalate free- I emailed to check.

e- I am very pleased to report that both children seem to be mostly sleeping through the night or at least getting within spitting distance. While there are periodic cries for re-tucking or reassurance or comfort for the pain of teething, we seem to be past the worst of the extended night wakings- of course, we're about to start it all over again, sigh... But, it's been coupled with Megan taking up to 2 hours to wind down for the night- not crying, just having a party in her crib. While she was welcome to sing, dance, tuck her bear in, re-tell various nursery rhymes, etc when she was in her own room, we moved her in with Charlie a few weeks back to do some light remodeling that really Must Be Done before baby 3, in the 2nd nursery where she was sleeping. Namely, we would like the 2nd nursery to actually look like a nursery rather than a guest room with a crib shoved in it. So, either my husband or I have been stuck in the 1st nursery shushing and rocking and patting and slowly losing our minds each evening. I'm hoping this will pass soon but am not holding my breath. But, it sure beats a 2 hour cryfest at 3 am.

f- Megan only wants to wear big girl underwear to bed. This present a bevy of problems and helps not at all with potty training. I was assured it was easier with a girl but I am beginning to have my doubt. First, we had some basic plumbing confusion. For a while, Megan was fond of telling us her "penis was empty" when she didn't have to use the bathroom. We finally got her to switch over to telling us the state of her bladder instead but now one of her favorite jokes is to announce the barren nature of her penis only to follow with "I don't have a penis" accompanied by much laughter. While I, of course, find this charming beyond measure, it took a bit of explaining to Miss Judy when she tried it at Mother's Day Out.

g- I am pretty sure this is our last baby. I had been a bit on the fence even though my husband was sure. My pregnancies are far from perilous but I'm not exactly glowing throughout. I tend to actively manage morning sickness from week 6-18 or so and then still feel quite iffy through week 24. In addition, I always have some sort of one-off difficulty- dislocating my hips, throwing out my back, a lovely week or two with Megan's pregnancy when my immune system completely gave up and I had some sort of weird fever blister things all over my mouth, pink eye AND a nasty cold. With this pregnancy, I acquired a rescue inhaler because apparently my lungs had just had enough with the very long, very dry winter abruptly followed by April, May and June all occurring in 1 week resulting in a pollen season like no other. Finally, last week I failed my gestational diabetes screening test.

We pulled out all the stops with this pregnancy. My husband cut back on his travel so he would be around to support me. I cooked like a fiend in the month before the pregnancy so we would have a stocked fridge. Both children are in care 2 mornings a week to give me a break (mostly used for napping in the first hunk of pregnancy). I went on morning sickness medication as soon as practical, etc, etc, etc. But this has still been a slog with the gestational diabetes simply the icing on the cake. Plus, my children don't tend to sleep at all well until they are are least 2 and I don't really count on much until 3. So, I feel like Charlie's main experiences with me thus far revolve mostly around me falling in an exhausted, queasy heap on the couch. I think we've limped through well enough that he still seems to be a happy child with adequate stimulation and whatnot but I would like to be able to do more than an adequate job. I want to bake cookies, run around, or simply stay awake now that he's old enough to really appreciate that sort of thing.

I think a lot of the driving force behind me wanting to have several children (I had been thinking 4) was that I wanted to provide my children with what I didn't have- a sense of home family. I want them to have that soft place to land, a tribe to call upon in time of need, back-up when you're over your head or just want to go to the movies, somewhere you actually want to be when Thanksgiving rolls around. But, I finally came to the conclusion that I could have 10 children who all dislike one another or I could have 2 that adore one another. Adding more children to the equation doesn't actually equal a family. I am glad we decided to have a 3rd baby and I think if my pregnancies had been a touch easier, I would have liked to have had more but, for now, I want to focus on helping nurture and grow the family I have and I think I can do that a lot better if I don't spend quite so much time in an exhausted stupor.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Totally Shallow

1- The other day I noticed that Megan has tell tale cottage cheesy-ness on her upper thighs. I decided that my perfect little 20 month old could not possibly be suffering from any beauty ailments as of yet. Hence, I've decided that cellulite is simply a part of life and to waste no further time worrying about eliminating it.

2- Over the last 4 years I have spent roughly a year puking or variations on that theme. Add an additional 3-6 months of nausea and general ill will towards most foods. I do have 2 and a third beautiful children as a result. However, it seems like I should really have abs of steel and nary a smidge of extra weight. This is really not the case.

3- I am at the annoying pudgy stage of pregnancy.

4- I discovered during my celebratory past-the-first-trimester hair dying that I now posses "resistant gray." (The general consensus seems to be that hair dye doesn't pose any significant risk to developing babies. Preferably, you should get highlights since they have less contact with the scalp but I had to settle for Natural Instincts with the thought that a complete lack of permanence, ammonia, or bleach had to be worth something.)

5- The cold weather combined with pregnancy induced dry skin, has my hands looking less than lovely.

6- I can't tell you how beautiful I feel with the combined effects of 2, 3, 4, 5. Glowing, I tell you, I am glowing!

7- In other third pregnancy news...
7a- I totally ate some brie when another pregnant lady pointed out to me that it was made from pasteurized milk
7b- I have eaten eggs with somewhat runny yolks twice now on the basic assumption that if one's morning sickness is as overenthusiastic as mine, if it was really all that bad for me, I wouldn't be able to even look at it.

8- I do have a theory concerning my morning sickness which makes me feel slightly more philosophical about it. I am apparently ill designed for actually getting babies out although reasonably good at growing them. Frankly, had I been born then or there instead of here and now, I likely would have died in childbirth or, at the very least, lost my babies, had all else been equal. However, somehow these genes managed to make it to me so somehow a woman managed to give birth with my structural quirks. I think extended morning sickness (as well as releasing enough relaxin to inadvertently dislocate your hips) is the answer. Had I not had the advantage of abundant nutrition pre-pregnancy and then the advantages of gatorade, modern medicine and Ben and Jerry's milkshakes, I would likely have gained rather significantly less during pregnancy and, hence, never managed to grow a 9 pound baby. At the same time, I was never sick enough to seriously endanger the child or myself- miserable, yes, hospitalized, no. Between this natural weight limitation and the excessive mobility of my joints, had I been born then or there rather than here and now, there is a good change I would, in fact, have managed to survive childbirth and pass along my somewhat questionable genetic viability.

9- We live far enough south that sweet tea is generally offered and magnolias are a part of the scenery. But, we live at a high enough elevation that snow boots are not an uncommon acquisition and Target stocks snow pants. We have some plows and the school districts build in some snow days. HOWEVER, we are on our 3rd (or maybe 4th?) major winter weather event of the season. Our snowfall for the year will soon be measured in yards rather than inches. I am about to go nucking futz! The children and I are seriously starting to not enjoy one another. We all have colds to varying degrees. I worry the couch will never recover from the amount of snow Penny has allowed to melt on it and that the children will develop rickets from the extended lack of sun. Of course, on deck for today is "light icing" and they are calling for more snow on Friday. I am considering if I would rather we move to South Carolina or South Texas. Thoughts?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Biggest Parenting Challenge

So, I read this blog and they posted asking what the readers biggest parenting challenges are in an effort to address reader needs. It started me thinking and the thing is that my biggest parenting challenge has very little to do with the mechanics and logistics of parenting and a lot to do simply with how I interact with the world in general. While Megan's fledgling violent streak and Charlie's penchant for drama are cause for some extra parenting cognition, the thing that challenges me most as a parent is me. Specifically, I tend to get overstimulated somewhat easily. While I am completely fine in an office setting and even cope reasonably well in a classroom setting, being a SAHM is challenging for me when you consider my children and their ages. Both are talkers. Both were EARLY talkers. Both are high needs in their own way. Both are cuddlers and touchers. Both are going to be in fairly high physical need stages of life for at least a few more years and there is another on the way. My life is filled with a constant background of chatter, singing, Charlie's many, many sound effects (he recently perfected his helicopter noise- the joy!), questions, requests, demands, and other joyful noises. Thankfully, neither child is in a particularly whiny stage at the moment.

Before the added demands of pregnancy, I would say that I reached my saturation limit around 3 pm assuming Megan could be coaxed into taking a decent nap and Charlie agreed to sit quietly and watch a couple of shows during rest time. But, I still tended to eat dinner by myself, upstairs. The added cacophony of "Where's my cup?" "I dropped my spoon," and "More!!!" that comes with meal time being simply beyond me. When I would eat with the family, I would often be snappish and my husband would often suggest that I might prefer to eat upstairs anyway. With the added demands of pregnancy, I peter out at about 11, Megan's nap is slowly fading away and Charlie is on some sort of restfulness strike filling rest time with chatter and fidgets. So, I am left with an even more urgent need to figure out how to balance the very legitimate if exuberant needs of two young children with my very real need to have a few moments of peace. Right now, I have been known to put on a show, give the children snacks and drinks and then steal out into the hall for a few minutes of silence. Both children are in care two mornings a week which was quite helpful until we ran into the Christmas break, quickly followed by snow, ice, and a mysterious 3 day long "winter break" which was less than 3 weeks after the end of Christmas break. My husband modified his schedule so he goes in early but is also home by about 4 which is when I need him most. But, of course, none of these are perfect. At this point, I am mostly hoping that the occasions when I do start to crack are outweighed by the many occasions on which I don't.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Good Parts

Suzannah is having a rough time so I thought I would write a post just for her. Head over and give her some encouragement if you can.

A months or so after Megan was born, Charlie, who had never slept well, hit a massive sleep hiccup for the next several months. It involved at least a couple of epic sleep battles every night. He often would cleverly time them to coincide with the point that Megan finally consented to sleep for a stretch. Megan didn't quite have a colic but was quite vocal most of the day and then would cry, with short breaks for nursing and napping, from about 5:30-9:30 every night until she was around 4 months old. For the first 2 months or so, we were blessed with 4-6 hour stretch from her but as she developed more social awareness and more awareness in general, sleep became less desirable and wakings became more frequent. Charlie also started this moaning thing where he would just make this low level, whiny moan for 45 minutes to an hour when subjected to such indignities such as needing to put on shoes before going outside or having his nose wiped. It would make you want to chop off your ears. Charlie started trying to drop his nap at birth but really put a push behind it a couple of months before Megan was born. After she was born, I generally managed to get him down around the time Megan woke from her nap. When she was around 4 months old, I gave up and he dropped it entirely with the expected behavioral "changes." I cried a lot those first 3 months. It wasn't really PPD so much as the overwhelming knowledge that you did this to yourself. You CHOSE it. I was tired, I looked awful, the house was falling apart. And then, it got a touch worse when Megan started sleeping for shorter stretches and the academic year really got in gear for my husband who could no longer offer the level of support he had been. There was no rhythm to my life, I was struggling through every day and then it started to ease.

Megan started going longer between nursings. I stopped fighting the sleep battles with Charlie. I was ok with just winning the war instead- if he would sleep through the night, I would muddle through the day. Megan stopped crying ALL THE TIME. Megan discovered the wonderful world of carbohydrates. Charlie started going to Mother's Day Out. I discovered the wonder that is the Sprout TV network. The endless summer ended and our activities started up again (spring is a beautiful time to have a baby but perhaps it's not great if all your social supports are getting ready to go on hiatus just as you need them most). It all started to get a little better and then the good parts started happening.

When Megan would cry in the car, Charlie would make "shhh" noises for her and tell her it was ok.

Charlie and Megan would reach out between the car seats and hold hands.

When Megan got baptised at around 9 months, Charlie reached out and stroked her wet head.

About 3 or 4 months ago, the really great stuff started.

Megan learned how to spell "Charlie" because she adores repeating everything he says.

Charlie and Megan climbed in a box and had a picnic. When I tried to ask Charlie what he was doing, I was told that he was "busy talking to Megan."

When Megan drops her placemat (which totally doesn't fit on her high chair tray), Charlie picks it up for her and tells her it's ok.

Charlie "reads" Megan books.

Megan insists on wearing all of Charlie's old pajamas instead of the ones I made just for her just because they used to be Charlie's.

They have tea parties together in their play house.

They hug.

They kiss.

They tickle.

They chase.

They tuck one another in and pat each other's backs at "rest time."

They play a very energetic version of ring around the rosie.

They make meals for one another in their kitchen and occasionally mange to build "big, huge towers" together.

Charlie watches out for Megan and tries to keep her from hurting herself.

And, really, there's a lot less fighting than I ever expected.

Give it 12 months and it really will get great. You really didn't make a horrible mistake.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Helpful Household Hints with Counter-Cultural Flair!

  • If you want your laundry to just smell clean, try using Charlie's Soap with a cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener.
  • Liquid Dr Bronner's is often available in bulk from natural food's stores. It's fair trade and not really all that expensive to use as a hand soap since you have to cut it with water- it's too thick otherwise. Tea tree oil helps fight germs without all the ick of triclosan and the scent is actually quite light. Between the laundry just smelling like laundry and the soap smelling mostly like soap, I now find more standard scented items to be overwhelming and I'm pretty sure that's not a bad thing.
  • Cut your plastic consumption by using re-fillable containers for your liquid soap and consider only using liquid soaps in the kitchen. Keep bar soaps well drained and wash for a good 30 seconds and you honestly won't die of a combination of super bugs and contamination- I promise!
  • Have you been a bit distressed by how much waste your monthly girly needs create? Consider the re-usable possibilities!
  • Create a paperless kitchen! This is something I'm working on but have currently been felled by the logistical difficulties of tiny children and pregnancy inertia.
  • Do you want to feel mildly paranoid at all times? If so, subscribe to thesmartmama twitter feed. She will keep you completely on top of lead and pthalates and all manner of other OMG!Fudgesicle! children's issues. I find it helpful to feel in the know but it can be a bit much at times so be sure to self filter as you need to.
  • For a decidedly non-counterculture nod... If you just want to know if the damn milk has expired, consider printing out these mini calendar pages, mount them on pretty sheets of scrapbook paper, punch 2 holes at the top and tie with a pretty ribbon to make your own customized, small calendar that's just perfect for hanging on your always spotless fridge!
  • If you were hoping to go both counter culture AND Jesus freak with your nutrition this year, Kitchen Stewardship has you covered! While I can totally get behind any number of her goals such as cutting out processed foods, dyes, HFCS, etc, I did blink a bit when I got to the argument that saturated fat is good for you. This mom is very sincere and earnest and is always up for some well reasoned debate. It's like visiting with that mom that always brings the sort of *different* snacks to preschool. She has some great information and the rest offers some interesting food for thought.
Apropos of nothing... I can't wait for some moss to peek up it's head so I can make one of these.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

My Resolution

For the past couple of years, I have been holding off on resolutions until Lent and then combined the two. I've been trying to look at reducing my carbon footprint. I know that one year I decided to try to do without disposable cups, especially plastic, and another year I decided to only use durable shopping bags. There may have been another that I can't remember. This year, I decided to go back to a New Year's resolution and this year, I resolve to smile more.

I used to smile all the time. Long ago, I looked in the mirror and discovered I couldn't pull of a "serious expression" in the middle of July or any other time, really. I was much more attractive when I smiled. And then I read an article about how the wrinkles in your face settle after a while to make you always look vaguely frowny if you frown too much. Smiling also sends some sort of message to your brain that you are happy, even if you're not which can make a bad situation at least mildly more bearable. I decided to make a smile my default expression.
I didn't realize how much energy it took to smile until after I had Charlie. I was so completely shell shocked by the experience of 4 hours of sleep a day in 45 minute intervals that the idea of a coherent thought, let alone a smile was just an insurmountable feat. As time went on, things got a bit better but sleep was always hanging over us. Then there was this 2 week interval where we thought it was getting better and... here comes Megan. It makes me rather sad, looking back on it. Charlie really started coming into his own in toddler-hood. I think if I hadn't been struggling my way through pregnancy, I would have enjoyed him a lot more. He had these wonderful language skills and was so cuddly but he also had 1-2 hour waking period 1, 2, or even 3 times night and nothing worked to get him back to sleep and we were all just frustrated and exhausted. Then Megan came and I was juggling all the time. For the first 3 or 4 months, it felt like we were only just hanging on. I considered it a triumph if I made it through the day without becoming completely demoralized. Smiling was infrequent.

People told me that things got better after the first year and they were right. There came a day when the floors were mopped again, laundry got done in a timely manner, I considered actually buying new craft supplies. I could enjoy and appreciate my children and all their adorable moments (the other day Megan put on her cape and said "I super hero. I come. I save you!" something about the fact that she couldn't even get the cape on or off by herself nor pronounce all the letters in her announcement made it even more adorable than you can imagine). Charlie sleeps through the night (with the introduction of light bribery) and Megan doesn't but generally has brief, manageable wakings rather than hour long sagas leaving both Charlie and I hiccuping messes. Life is becoming less battle and more enjoyment. These moments are fleeting and, damn it, I'm going to smile at them.